CARDINAL POINTS: THE CURRENT ISSUE
Alexei Tsvetkov
THE DESTINATION

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Alexei Tsvetkov. Photo: Dmitry Kuzmin
   Alexei Tsvetkov
      Photo: Dmitry Kuzmin



singing to no one in particular


there are birds that sing with two voices
blessed with a divided larynx
were they people they could hold
two conversations simultaneously
and both turn out right in the end

now i am expediently perched
for precisely such an attempt
except that there is no interlocutor
similarly gifted and the two songs
are not aimed at each other

such an animal is split in the middle
by an impenetrable plane
cutting off its left hand voice
from its right hand voice and the heart
from the heartless yet also singing side

but if we possessed two hearts
our blood would flow against itself
so stay as you are a useless warbler
whose two discourses addressed to the void
receive no response to either



making peace


the old emperor isn't necessarily evil
he only hurts us when there is no other recourse
to chastise the unruly and to maintain order
the going rate brings the order within his grasp

the lawns are neat the thoroughfares straight
scrubbed bone-white and lined with cypresses
and the court falconers will soon succeed
in their effort to keep the pigeons in formations

remember delia how desperate we were
having lost each other at the war-torn train station
augustus has put a stop to mishaps like that
human folly is fleeting but the order endures
now that you are a cypress i always know
where to find you should steel clang again

in a state where not a single life is wasted
every citizen can aspire to a tiny monument
in his miniature memorial garden they say
the halogen sun is never eclipsed over it
we are his dream come true he must be dead tired by now
yet what glory it would be to watch the pigeons
marching abreast in such a peaceful space



pins on the map


i could surely use an auxiliary life
running alongside this default one
such as being a ufo junkie someplace in iowa
where i would spend my rural evenings
connecting dots on a map and marking them
with certain special pins bought on the internet
a particular brand never to be profaned
by other uses the source kept secret

perhaps i would also keep a row of file cabinets
in a sealed garage having exiled the old buick
a battery of drawers which i am not going
to tag farmington centerville or guernsey
a simple code would do just as well
one can never be too careful even though the key
is well hidden and the one from the map room too
some extra copies of the clippings i would perhaps
paste on cardboard sheets in a meaningful design

even at work while filing the claims
i will knowingly look at the sky now and then
and when they finally pull a plug on me
in the local infirmary there will be no time left
for the lifelong confidence to expire before me

if only i could steal some certainty
from that extra existence elsewhere
powerless to solve the mysteries
accosting the brain at every step
with nothing to pin with this place on the map
slowly sliding away from under me



the destination


i
you arrive in a town where you will spend
the remainder of your life the lawns are browned
by frostbites and leaves on sycamores shrivel
the view from the church parking-lot presents
a hydrangea hedge still in bloom and teeming
with chipmunks the soundtrack hijacked
by blue jays the stained glass of the lancet windows
shimmers with a hymn intoned by the throng inside
the sky they beseech is watery and low
and the lake is within a stone throw from wherever

ii
you have picked it at random simply by counting
seven exits from the last stop unwilling to tell
one hicksville from another you were looking
for a place to lay down your burden and this one
happens to have a red courthouse tower seen from afar
with a clock whose frozen hands
almost touch midnight without specifying
a day or a year must be the late seventies
judging by a decaying steel mill the very
fish skeleton of the existence as such

iii
speaking of which remember hitting a fishmarket
some sixty miles ago where in front of your eyes
the deft piscator gilling a black bass produced
a brass ring from within the creature's bowels
never having thrown it in the lake you could not
have been the addressee or perhaps the fisherman
was a classics dropout armed with an aged joke
he may be using it as a shibboleth to sort out
the locals from the commuters with a harvard diploma
to better avail himself of their monetary situation

iv
come to think of it none of those locals seem
to be in a hurry to greet the new settler
except for the presumed jarrers of the stained glass
the locals are paramount to the entire scenario
you will secretly award each one with a name
of somebody once loved or simply met elsewhere
it has been seven exits but the true one is now found
as to the doctor the matter can wait
one will turn up eventually but the verdict
is immutable still the life was a burst of joy

v
here under the unresponsive sky
on their soil saturated with rust you will settle
in a rented hovel with a porch facing the lake
not necessarily placid it owes you nothing
like the sky let it be simply a space of water
and the clock on the tower at the edge of time
will mutely chime while the natives shuttle
to and fro their secret names unknown to them
smiling you will sit on the porch with a dead laptop
and type blindly lifewasaburstofjoylifewas



© Copyright Alexei Tsvetkov
яндекс цитировани€ Rambler's Top100